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‘1917’ Leads China Weekend; Korea Has Yet Another Hit With ‘Deliver Us From Evil’ & ‘Greenland’ Makes Hay In France – International Box Office

Nancy Tartaglione

SUNDAY UPDATE: The international box office continued to show increasing signs of life this weekend, with fresh titles notably in such markets as China, Korea and France. Some of what’s working are films that demand the big screen experience, even if they are arriving late (or are making a re-appearance in certain areas), as well as fresh homegrown titles. Though still not thriving, per se, the reopening process is demonstrating there is hunger for the theatrical experience overseas.

Korea for its part is keeping the momentum going, bowing crime drama Deliver Us From Evil to a fantastic $14.9M 5-day start, per Kobiz. It positively dominated the market which is robust in the wake of such new local titles as Peninsula and Steel Rain 2: Summit, reinforcing the strength of the Korean industry. Peninsula now has a $27M cume at home after four frames. The Train To Busan sequel opened in Canada via WellGo this session with 47 runs and a Friday-Saturday take of $83K; the weekend will likely land in the low $100K range as Anthony has noted. In IMAX, it added $22K from 24 screens there.

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Meanwhile, China‘s full third weekend back to cinemas was worth about $17.3M. As expected, Sunday was down versus last weekend when the reissue of Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar gave the market a nice jolt. Nevertheless, Sunday was up slightly over Saturday’s final RMB 44.7 ($6.4M) to RMB 45.3M ($6.5M). Leading the charge was DreamWorks/Amblin/Universal’s 1917 with a No. 1 three-day of $5.27M per Maoyan. This lifts the worldwide cume on the Sam Mendes Oscar winner to $381.9M.

Alibaba releases 1917 locally where the movie has an 8.5 on Douban and an 8.8 on ticketing platform Maoyan. It’s a strong start for an original new film that drives audiences to the big screen experience, piracy notwithstanding.

In 2nd place this frame, Interstellar added RMB 29.5M during the sophomore session and taking the cume on the WB pic’s re-release to $11.6M. Interstellar acts as a taster for the August 28 reissue of Nolan’s Inception which will be followed by the movie that the world is waiting for, Tenet, on September 4.

Both 1917 and Interstellar in China helped IMAX reach $1.6M this weekend globally, up 7% on last frame. The latter grossed $680K on 502 Middle Kingdom IMAX screens. After only eight days in release there, the epic has an IMAX cume of $2.7M, nearly 25% of the nationwide gross. As for 1917, it scored $620K from 532 IMAX screens, over 12% of the nationwide gross.

Universal’s Dolittle, as noted yesterday (see below), is now the highest-grossing movie of the year in China with a cume through Sunday of $16.2M (RMB 113.2M).

The other new film in the frame was Fox/Disney’s Ford V Ferrari which did $1.15M (RMB 8M), potentially hampered by its long runtime despite fantastic social and critical scores.

Next weekend, China sees Warner Bros’ re-release of Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone, for the first time in 3D, which is performing well in pre-sales and could hit an eight-figure opening. Also coming nexrt weekend is Sony’s Bad Boys For Life as well as previews of long-delayed local war movie The Eight Hundred which officially opens on August 21; each will have an IMAX component. IMAX will also bow WB’s 10th anniversary edition of Inception across much of international, ahead of the China release on August 28.

Elsewhere, STX’s Greenland was the No. 1 movie in France this weekend with a $1.09M debut at 485 locations. That’s on par with Angel Has Fallen, 8% over Olympus Has Fallen and 46% above Den Of Thieves, all of which also starred Gerard Butler. The action thriller from Ric Roman Waugh had over 20% market share in France with cinemas running at 50% capacity and reduced showtimes. A further testament to fresh titles bringing audiences out — and despite a major heatwave affecting most of the country.

In total, Greenland added $1.14M from 540 offshore locations in the session, including $55K in Belgium. The international box office cume is $1.25M ahead of openings in such markets as Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Switzerland Taiwan, Singapore and Vietnam next weekend. 

Finally, Sony Pictures International Productions’ Spanish hit Padre No Hay Mas Que Uno 2 was the clear No. 1 choice in Spain this weekend. Down just 27% in its sophomore frame, the comedy sequel added $1.2M for a local cume of $5.5M. That’s on par with the original after 12 days in release.  

PREVIOUS, SATURDAY UPDATE: Continuing the upward trend of the past two weekend’s China’s third Saturday back to the movies saw a slight uptick, totaling $6.5M as of 11PM local time. That’s a 13% increase over the previous Saturday. Given last Sunday got a major jolt with the reissue of Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, and that there are no new titles tomorrow, the weekend could nevertheless drag versus last.

Universal’s Dolittle is still chatting away in its 3rd weekend, taking 3rd place on Saturday and also taking up the mantle of the highest-grossing 2020 release in the Middle Kingdom. Maoyan is showing a cume through today of $15.4M (RMB 107.3M). The Robert Downey Jr-starrer passed Spies In Disguise (RMB 103.4M/$14.95M) which, while officially a 2019 title, entered China on January 3. To be sure, in a normal year, the top movies would be in the hundreds of millions of dollars, but this is a hopeful sign that box office in the world’s second largest market is powering up for the future.

Leading play again on Saturday was DreamWorks/Amblin/Universal’s 1917 with another $2M for a $3.7M cume to date. The Sam Mendes Oscar winner now has an 8.8 on Maoyan and an 8.5 on Douban.

Behind it, Interstellar added $1.7M to cume nearly $10M during this China run. Coming up on August 28, Warner Bros will release a 10th anniversary edition of Nolan’s Inception, followed by the much anticipated September 4 release of Tenet.

Fox/Disney’s Ford V Ferrari hasn’t picked up much traction, though it has terrific scores (8.6 on Douban/9.3 on Moayan) and may be hampered by its long runtime which is thought to be acting as a deterrent to the number of showings given imposed intermissions on pictures over two hours. The cume through two days is $718K.

And, in Korea, local crime pic Deliver Us From Evil had a big 75% hike on Saturday, now having grossed $11M in just four days.

We’ll have a full weekend update on Sunday.

PREVIOUS, FRIDAY: China’s third Friday back to the movies scored a slight increase on last week’s comparable day at $4.38M. It’s short of the $7.6M generated last Sunday which was boosted by Warner Bros’ reissue of Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, but still a jump on last Friday, while midweeks were solid. Play today was led by DreamWorks/Amblin/Universal’s 1917 with $1.77M.

This is the first time Sam Mendes’ awards season war movie was released in China after having been sidelined by COVID earlier in the year, and is again testament to audience appetite for new films as cinemas resume operations. It’s also an example of a film that drives desire for the big-screen experience. Alibaba Pictures releases locally where 1917 has an 8.5 score on Douban and a 9 on Maoyan.

Meanwhile, Universal’s Dolittle has reached RMB 101.6M ($14.58M) according to Maoyan which means the Robert Downey Jr-starrer is headed to the No. 1 spot of the year, so far, for a Hollywood movie in the Middle Kingdom. Over the weekend, it should edge out Fox/Disney’s Spies In Disguise (RMB 103.4M/$14.95M).

Interstellar, for its part, rode from Sunday through Thursday at No. 1, and has cumed $8.24M in the re-release. As we wrote yesterday, Nolan’s Inception is having its 10th anniversary resissue in China on August 28, followed by his Tenet, the first major new tentpole of 2020 since the pandemic began. Tenet goes on September 4 in the Middle Kingdom after beginning offshore rollout on August 26. Coronavirus-imposed capacity and screening limits are still likely to be in place in China, though perhaps somewhat less stringently. Tenet was shot with IMAX cameras and almost all IMAX screens there are expected to be open by the time the movie hits theaters. This is good news.

Also in China today, Fox/Disney’s great racing drama Ford V Ferrari bowed with $324K. It has an 8.6 on Douban, but may have been dented today by the long running time. Intermissions are being imposed in some areas for films over two hours and so some exhibitors may be shying on screening it, we’ve heard. But it could still pull up over the weekend.

Elsewhere at the international box office already this week, Korea has yet another new hit on its hands. Deliver Us From Evil, from director Hong Won-chan has delivered $6.85M since bowing on Wednesday. The action crime film is the latest in a streak of local winners. Peninsula, which is nearing $27M in Korea, releases today in Canada, followed by the U.S. on August 21.

And, STX’s Gerard Butler-starrer Greenland had a strong opening in France on Wednesday with 31K admissions for a take of $250K. The start was 8% ahead of Angel Has Fallen and 61% ahead of Olympus Has Fallen — and that’s with capacity and screening restrictions. Despite a heatwave throughout most of the country, the film added another 22.5K admissions on Thursday in further testament to the taste for something new.

We’ll have more updates through the weekend.

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